It’s February. You still have half a school year to go, and you may be feeling run-down. Your fuse may be short. You may be putting in less effort at school. You might feel detached from your students, and find yourself going through the motions to get through the day. You may even be sleeping poorly and calling in sick more often.
The problem is teacher burnout, and it strikes most teachers some point in their careers. Unruly students, uninvolved parents, too much paperwork, little recognition, and less- than-stellar pay are all energy-sappers and can leave teachers feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. The professional consequences can be significant.
“Teachers who experience burnout are less sympathetic toward students, are less committed to and involved in their jobs, have a lower tolerance for classroom disruption, are less apt to prepare adequately for class, and are generally less productive,” according to a leadership expert quoted in an “Education World” article on the subject.
For some teachers, burnout is more than just a rough patch. “It can be, and often is, a career- ending crash,” notes a 1996 Teacher Magazine article.
Paying attention to your emotional, mental, and physical state is necessary to gauge stress and prevent burnout. However, it isn’t always easy. Teachers are by nature centered on the needs of their students instead of their own, says Julia G. Thompson, author of “First- Year Teacher’s Survival Kit.” “Most teachers under stress are without full awareness of its severity and the toll it takes until the damage is significant,” she says. “One of the major reasons so many capable and bright young professionals leave our profession is because they lack the necessary coping skills to handle stress while it is still manageable.”
So finding ways to decompress is essential. Here are some suggestions: